Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Leaving on a Jet Plane.

Well, Diana and I have come to Houston to help my sister out with her two young children. Her husband is a pilot and so we got to experience the joys of flying standby for the first time last Saturday. Things went pretty well. Trent was able to drive us to the airport on account of Marion and Jared were still at scout camp. We got to the airport about 7:30 for our 9:25am flight. I don't know what the deal is and why there have to be so many dang people at the Las Vegas Airport all the time. I am constantly amazed that no matter what time or day my flight is there are always about a billion other people trying to fly home. I guess I can't blame them for wanting to leave Las Vegas, but that is a post for another time. Anyway, we stand in a ridiculously long line and finally make it out to our gate. We did come plenty early and so we had time to enjoy a lovely breakfast that we had to pay an arm and a leg for. It did taste good and was large enough that we could split it and so that was good. We then finally made it over to our gate to wait and see if we would make it on the plane. Once again I was astounded by the large crowd. Doesn't anyone want to sleep in anymore? Diana was very disapointed that we did not join the others as they stood in line to board the plane. Turns out that this plane was very full and we learned a new airline term "weight restricted". This term means that there may be too much weight on the plane and they have to wait until the last minute to determine if any of the stand by people can go. Apparently this is done by some kind of averages because the airlines think people might take offense to actually being asked to step on a scale before boarding the plane. Although with everything else you go through, why not add another thing to the process. Bottom line when it was all said and done, they reached their weight limit and so we did not get on even if there were some empty seats. I realize that we are not paying customers and so we should not complain, it was just disapointing for Diana who was overly excited to get going.
The next flight was at 11:10. This was just an hour and a half away. We decided to walk around and do some window shopping to kill the time. I was surprised at how fast the time did go and Diana was excited to purchase a little artist kit at one of the nearby shops. I was excited that it was only $10. We went back to the gate and took turns sketching each other. Finally they started boarding the next flight. This time we hit the stand by lottery and we were given seats. It is almost as exciting as if Bob Barker said "Pat and Diana Hammond, come on down, your the next constestants on You've Got a Seat." We happily boarded the plane and were even able to trade seats with someone on the plane so that we could sit together. Finally we were in the air and I was reminded of how much I hate to fly. I am a member of the Mr. T. school of flying where I prefer to be sedated when flying on a plane. Just because I prefer this, does not make it so, but if I could choose I would not choose to be awake when I am off the ground. There was a lot of turbulance when we left until we got high enough up that things settled down. Did I mention that I don't like to fly? Yikes. The flight went well and we got to see the movie "Bridge to Teribithia", which neither Diana or I had seen. Finally we were getting close to Houston. I guess the weather was a bit bad and we hit some air pocket or something. It felt like the plane went over something like Splash Mountain. The guy sitting next to me said we must have fell 50 feet. I have never felt anything like it before and many of the passengers screamed all at once. I have to admit to being to scared to scream, which must be a first for me. Needless to say, I was very happy when we were back on the ground.
We are having a nice visit with my sister, although two children under two do require some attention. It is nice to be out of the heat as it is only in the 80's here. The humidity is quite interesting, but I am getting used to it.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I survived!

Well I survived girls camp. I suppose all together it was a success. No one broke their leg, like last year. We took 18 girls and brought the same 18 girls home. No one froze to death, in fact no one even got sick. The camp across the road from us had girls throwing up, so we counted our blessings that didn't happen to us. The girls all got along extremely well and that was wonderful. The tent assignments that I had spent about 40 hours worrying about all worked out well in the end. Gosh, why do we obsess about things that really are not that important in the end? I felt lucky that we were in the campsite closest to the stake. It really was nice to be so close to opening and closing flag. Last year we were in the campsite furthest away and at the top of a fairly steep hill.

Here's a picture of me singing at flag, did I mention it was rather cold the first day? I have earned the name of hypothermiac, because I am always cold and wore many layers to try and compensate. Those hand warmer things are my best friend. The first night I went to sleep with one of those warmers griped tightly in my hand and I woke up several times during the night with it still in my hand. My favorite part of camp is singing the songs. Whether it be the silly ones like Fried Ham, Noah, or Princess Pat, or singing church songs around the fire there is nothing better than music and nature. It is also really wonderful to get away from normal life of cell phones and busy schedules. Camp was nice this year because we had more free time where we could be together as a ward. We had about a million different crafting supplies, and the girls had a great time making all sorts of crafts.

The first afternoon we were there, our leaders were in charge of teaching certification to 30 third year girls. One of the requirements said to have the girls spend time observing nature and then share their thoughts through drawings, poetry or interpretive dance. I hoped for lots of interpretive dancing but no one choose that option. We made all the girls walk up a fairly large hill from our camp #6 to camp #13. We brought craft supplies with us like pipe cleaners and modeling clay. This activity went better than I had thought it would, most of the girls really got into it and made some pretty interesting things. We did however have about 4 girls who thought it would be fun to climb 20 feet up a tree to do their observing. For a while it looked imminent that we would have another injury just hours into camp. We did however manage to get everyone back to the ground safely. It was fun to see what the girls had made, although several of their creations involved worms being eaten by birds. Here is a picture of me with another leader and our beautiful pipe-cleaner creations. We were glad when our certification rotation was over and on the first day. That night at opening flag we had the assignment to present the theme of "Be Strong". We asked some of our crazy 4th years to do this. We had the idea to do a take off of "Hans and Frans" from Saturday Night Live. The girls had not ever seen this, but thanks to U-Tube they got the idea of it. They wrote a very funny skit that revolved around the idea that they were here to "pump you up, spiritually". It was very funny and went over very well, although the rest of the week the other wards all just read a scripture so I hope we were not being to irreverent.

Here is a picture of all our leaders. It was great to have so much help. Especially the two sisters who were in charge of the food. I can not even begin to say how nice it was to not worry about what we were eating and who was in charge of getting the girls to make it. And not digging through the coolers to find things was also nice. Our ward had these fun shirts just for the leaders. We all really liked the camo theme. I found hats like the pink one in this picture for just $2.50 and so we got them for all the girls. Each level had a different color.

Here's a picture of all 18 girls. We loved all of them and were pleasantly pleased with how well they all got along. Aren't their shirts cute? We were slightly sad that our picture was on the second day of camp, but I think we all still look presentable.

This is me relaxing while the girls are doing latrine duty. This is also a good shot of my fanny pack. This pack was lovingly named "My Mary Poppins bag". This of course due to the fact that almost any conceivable need could be met by my wonderful pack. But onto latrine duty...Our ward has a tradition of having sort of valet service during our latrine duty time. When you come to the latrine you are welcomed by 10 - 15 girls. Someone offers to hold your jacket or personal items, someone else opens the door to the latrine and sprays it down with air freshener, before you enter someone has folded the T-P into a nice triangle, after you come out someone turns on the water for you and gets it to just the right temperature, someone offers you sweet smelling soap, after you wash your hands someone offers you a real towel to dry your hands, after that someone offers you lotion, and finally someone offers you a mint. If by chance there is a line, someone will give you a back massage with a little massage tool. The girls really get into this and it is a lot of fun. Of course there was no question-we won the golden plunger award. See next picture.
Last year we tied with another ward and we won a crown as the Latrine Queens which is really just as good. Because really it is not about winning the award, rather about the fun we all have together serving the others in our camp.
Here is a picture of a group of our girls. Notice their cute Rainbow bags. Someone donated these great tote bags, but they had a rather obnoxious drug logo on the front and back. I decided to try to cover it up and found this great fabric. I thought about going with camo, but it seemed like the Rainbow ward girls needed something rainbowish. A friend helped me to apply this fabric with wonder under. We finished all 18 of them in about 2 hours. I was thrilled with how they turned out. The girls loved them and personalized them with sharpies and ribbon. The bags were great for the girls to haul their camp manual, scriptures, and even water around all week. Yeah, I love it when a plan comes together.

This is me as my life is flashing in front of my eyes. For those of you who don't know, I am extremely afraid of heights. I don't know how they got me to do this. The girls begged me to is one reason. I can only attribute it to a lack of sleep that impaired my judgement. Another factor would have to be one of my best friends running the zip line. She can talk anyone into anything. As I stood on the top of the platform, I admit to questioning my sanity. I was pretty scared, but I did it anyway. Yeah me. I did scream for most of it and kept my eyes closed. I did open them so I could watch my landing and not hit the platform. Unfortunately when I opened my eyes all I could see was a platform that seemed forever away. The bummer part was that because of my timid departure, I had stopped quite a distance from the other platform. This meant that I had to pull myself the rest of the way. The other reason I said I would do it, was because I was assured that it required no physical ability whatsoever. This would have been true if I had made it all the way. Unfortunately my lack of upper body strength was evident to all, most of all myself. Finally after what seemed like forever the priesthood reached out and pulled me back to the safety of the ground. I have to admit that it was pretty fun and so I tried it again. This time I made it further but still had to pull myself a bit.

This is a picture of the lovely makeover I receive at Friday's morning flag ceremony. Don't I look beautiful? I did however win the loudest applause from the audience when they were asked to vote on whose makeover was the best. And the makeup did not come out of my shirt when I washed it, Oh well.

This is me bagged up and ready to go home on Friday night. We had these darn green plastic bags for our trash. They had been stored for a year out in the scout closet and they were fused together. It took something akin to superhuman powers just to get them opened. After wrestling with the darn thing for a while I managed to get it open a little and so I stuck my leg into it to help open it the rest of the way. And once I had one leg in, well I just had to see if all of me could fit. Chalk it up to lots of sleep deprivation.

All in all, it was a great week with lots of fun and little sleep. I am still trying to recover and I have slept for about 10 hours every night. Jared is gone to scout camp this week and so things are a little bit quieter. Maybe I will be able to get my house put back together. Everyone here survived pretty well. Diana lucked out because a friend picked her up at noon last Tuesday and she did not come home until 2:00 pm on Saturday. Marion was pretty busy and she was having so much fun over there, she asked to stay again each night. With Trent at work each day, that just left Jared here to fend for himself.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pat's Ponderings

As I had written before, Diana needs glasses. Yesterday at church, she was having a hard time reading the hymn numbers up on the wall. I let her look through my glasses, and she was amazed to actually be able to read the numbers. Through out the rest of the meeting, she asked to borrow my glasses several times. Once you have a taste of clear vision, it is hard to go back to things being blurry. She can't wait for her own pair of glasses to be done.
I wondered if this could be compared to our job of helping others gain a testimony. Perhaps as parents we can let our children use our testimony to see things more clearly. Of course eventually they will need to gain a testimony of their own, but can they catch the vision of the clarity the gospel can bring to life by looking through our testimony glasses. And once they have had a taste of clear vision, won't their desire to gain a testimony of their own be increased. And perhaps this can be used with others besides our children. Truly isn't anyone who has not received a testimony of the gospel struggling around in the dark, so to speak. And once they have seen how clear and sharp things can look, they will want a testimony of their own. I am grateful for my testimony and the way it can help me navigate my way through this dark and sometimes dreary world.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Seeing Things with Different Eyes!

Well yesterday Diana went for her first eye appointment and she needs glasses. I can't believe it. A few weeks ago was the first time she even complained to me about not being able to see things on the board. The eye doc said that she would not pass the eye exam at the DMV if she needed to take one. So her first pair of glasses is on order. She chose a cute pair from the Disney princess collection. They will not be ready until next week. I did not really believe that she needed them, thinking that she was just wanting as much attention as Jared has been getting for his glasses. I am excited for her to get her first glasses and experience the wonder of seeing that the trees actually have leaves. It is quite an amazing experience to see the world through clearer eye sight. I still remember the day I got my first pair of glasses when I was about 16 years old. Boy I may have to get a job to help pay for the eye care needs of our family. Lucky Trent is the only one of us without glasses.

Speaking of glasses, Jared got hit in the head last Saturday and his glasses broke AGAIN! AAARG!! The temple part on the right side went flying in the air, and we never even found the piece ever. Just to update those of you blissfully in the dark, Jared chose these new frames last December. He had worn his old frames for 2 years waiting for our insurance to cover new frames. So finally he was eligible to pick out new frames. After much deliberating he chose a rather nice looking pair. The optometrist informed me that this was a great choice as it was suppose to be next to indestructible. Apparently he had even had a client accidentally run over a similar pair and they were not completely destroyed. At the same time we decided to pay an extra $80 for a sun glass clip that would attach to the front of the frame magnetically. So the new glasses were obtained and we went home unaware of the trial these glasses would turn out to be. With in a few weeks, Trent knocked them askew one day. This made it too hard to Jared to see out of them and so he wore his old pair, with the old prescription. A few days later I managed to take him to get them adjusted. Of course they were bent on the weekend when the optometrist office was closed. Then a month after that Marion accidentally bumped them with the same result. So we went in for an adjustment for the the second time in as many months. Then one day at soccer practice, they were bumped out of alignment for the third time. We tried to bend them back and Jared wore them that night to Diana's choir concert at a high school. They were bothering him and he took them off several times. At one time he wanted me to hold them, but Marion told him he needed to hold them himself. The next morning he told me that he could not find his glasses anywhere. I ran Trent to school and came home and started looking. I tore my house apart. Not only could I not find his new glasses, I couldn't even find his old ones either. Nothing makes me crazier than looking for things and not finding them. I searched everywhere I could think off and finally he went to school without his glasses. I finally became convinced that he had lost them at the concert the night before. I drove over to the high school and proceeded to tell my sad story to anyone who would listen. Finally after repeating the story several times, I ended up at the custodian's office. He was kind enough to walk over to the theater and unlock it. He then watched as I crawled around on my hands and knees looking in the section where we had been sitting. Still nothing. After feeling that I had exhausted every possibility at the school, I returned to my house and continued searching for a few more hours. I felt that I had lost my mind and how could it be so hard to find something that we had the night before. Eventually I gave up. Jared came home from school that day and proceeded to find the glasses under his bed about 10 minutes after he got home. I could swear that I had looked there. I was very relieved that we did not have to go out and buy a new pair and of course it was a Friday so that would have made it difficult. After this the drama/trauma with the glasses took a break for about a month or two. It was probably about 3 weeks ago, that they again turned up missing one morning. This time they were miraculously found before school. And then it was just 2 weeks ago that we went and had them adjusted again. And that brings us to last week when they broke for what seemed like the last time. Once again Jared is wearing his old pair with the wrong prescription in it. I myself thought that maybe it was for the best, and that we could get new lenses in the old frames. These glasses have seemed to be possessed with some evil spirit designed to make my life miserable. Actually it would give me great pleasure to know that we didn't need those dang glasses and then I would love to run over them several times with my car and I don't mean accidentally. Sadly my optometrist tells me that the fact that we wanted to have the sunglass clip made the front of the frame be less flexible and could possibly be part of the problem. The temple that came off and was lost can be reordered and replaced. I am not sure how much it is going to cost, but it will definitely be less than a whole new pair of glasses. Darn, I didn't get to reek revenge on those glasses after all. Hey maybe I shouldn't let an inanimate object be the cause of so much grief in my life. So sorry to rant on and on about these glasses, but hopefully it will all be better soon. Also we plan to get contacts. I think we will get the disposable kind that you throw away day. That sounds like it could be ideal.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Latest News

Well I just thought I would update everyone on the state of our van. Saturday night we took the seats out and just as I had planned I took a hose to all of it. It didn't seem so bad to hose off the seat, but I have to admit it was a little bit surreal standing in the van just spraying it all down with water. Then I wondered what to do to squeeze the water out. I remembered that our house came with a giant squeegie thing, that I think I am suppose to use on my deck when it rains. I ran up and got it. Sure enough it did a great job ringing out the carpet. I pushed as much of the water out as I could, but it was still very wet. Next I sprayed fabreeze on the carpet, to try and keep any bad mildew smell from developing. We left the doors and windows open all night long, hoping it would dry. This would be one time I was glad about the fact that I live in Vegas where conditions mimic that of a dryer. The next morning, it still was not quite dry and there was a slight smell developing, that was less than lemon fresh. I next sprayed the whole carpet down with some kind of foam stuff. I had this carpet spray left over from last summer when I drove kids to do temple baptisms and one of the kids threw up in the van on the way home. This is spray that you leave on and it gets rid of any bacteria causing a bad odor. That seems to have done the trick, and Monday morning we put the seats back in the van just in time for my turn for the car pool this week.

So now I can turn my attentions from car washer to camp director. Yes just one week from today I will be sleeping/freezing up on MT Charleston. In fact on Saturday, we take everything up the mountain to set up. At this point I am looking forward to it all being over. I went shopping today with the 2 camp cooks and we bought 2 carts heaping full of food. It is going to take a fair amount of food to feed 30 people for 3 days. We don't have to do much on Tuesday because we are making the girls bring sack lunches and the stake is feeding us dinner. This should be so much better than last year. Last year we had planned to have taco salad for lunch, but the taco meat was frozen like a brick and our camp stove had problems. I had to go across to another camp and beg to borrow a stove. Of course while I was doing this, one of our first years climbed the rock wall unsupervised or harnessed and fell and broke her ankle. We figure things can't go any worse than that this year. Hopefully the rest of the preparations will go well. I don't have a lot left to do - prepare a devotional and my certification assignment. And a few other minor details. This morning as many ladies from camp as could went to the 6:00 am temple session. We were also all fasting for a good week at camp. I can't imagine a better way to start camp. At least we have finalized our number at 18 girls. Well like I said, it will all be over in a week.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Pat's Ponderings

I am hoping that this will be a regular, reoccurring feature on my blog in which I write about some of things that I have been thinking about recently.

Today's topic will be Forgiving those who have offended us. I have always thought that the ability to forgive is like a muscle and that we either use it or loose it. And so I have tried to tell myself that it is fortunate when I am offended as it gives me the opportunity to see how big my forgiveness muscle is. However, I do not feel happy while I am in the middle of the chance to forgive others. It is so easy to be bogged down with the feelings of injustice and the pain that comes with conflict with others.

Recently at Women's conference my sister and I walked from the dorms up to the Marriot center in the rain. Neither of us had an umbrella, but we did have coats on. My sister's coat was a waterproof raincoat, while mine was just a denim sort of thing lined with flannel. I noticed that the rain just rolled off her coat, while mine just soaked it up. The result of this was that my coat became quite heavy and wet for the rest of the day. Even though I stayed inside for the remainder of the day, my coat never did completely dry. Quite honestly it was a pain to lug around and made me cold if I ever touched it. My sister's coat on the other hand seemed no worse the wear and did not bother her at all. I wondered if this was a good parable for not being easily offended. We both walked in the same rain, but it was the way the coat dealt with the rain that made the difference. Could it be that two people could be exposed to the same offense, yet one take it in and absorb it while the other let it roll off her shoulders?

In studying my family history, I have read stories of ancestors who let offense be the reason that they left the church and all the blessings that it has to offer. This not only affected their life, but the lives of their children and grandchildren. I wonder if they could go back would they make a different choice? Recently, I felt very offended. I was extremely upset and it disrupted my sleeping, eating, and feelings for several weeks. I finally realized that I needed to forgive this person no matter what. I felt as though my ancestors were sitting next to me telling me not to follow in their footsteps. And so I was able through prayer and time to experience the miracle of forgiveness again. Not the miracle of my being forgiven, but the miracle of me forgiving another I felt had wronged me. And truly it is a miracle when we can forgive and forget.

It is a very simple plan that the Lord has given to us. We must forgive everyone, regardless of the circumstances. I don't need a forgiveness lawyer or accountant to help me figure out all the exclusions and exceptions. It is a very simple law to understand, just not as simple to follow. I know that I still have a long way to go in developing my forgiveness muscles, but hopefully I am on the right path.

Traveling Flood

I have heard the saying "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade", but what do you do when 4 gallons of lemonade spill in the back seat of your van? Unfortunately I found about this tonight. We had made the lemonade and put it into a 5 gallon jug to take to Jared's soccer party. Marion put it on the back bench of the car. As I got in, I half though to myself about the stability of said jug. And sure enough when we turned the second corner I heard it tip over sideways on the back seat. I was sitting right in front of it and tried to turn around to life it upright. But as if in horrifying slow motion, I turned around just in time to see the lid pop off and gallons of yellow liquid flooding the car. This was not just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible with raisins in it. We turned the van around and went home. Marion emptied all of the wet and sticky tools from the back of his van. I ran in the house and got every towel we own and tried to sop up as much of the mess as possible. I think tomorrow we will take the seats out of the van and hose them down. Then we will park on a hill and wash down the inside as well. I don't imagine it will ever all come out or be the same again. The good news is that we decided not the make the homemade root beer, which is twice as sticky. We stopped at the store and bought supplies to replace the drink and we were only 30 mins late to the party. It all seemed to go well and we are glad that it is over. Jared does have 2 games tomorrow as well as Diana having one. One more week after tomorrow, YEAH! Boy it is too hot to want to be outside as we have finally gone over the century mark in the temperature department.